James Rodriguez has taken the World Cup by storm, and while he’s already secured his place among the world’s elite, he’s not ready to leave Brazil just yet.
The Colombian superstar is looking to take his biggest prize yet, a quarterfinal shocker against hosts Brazil.
But A Seleção are hoping to again avoid an upset and also skirt a disappointing showing in their own World Cup. They’ll need to be better than they have been, as this World Cup has featured cohesive squads feasting on big names not playing as a unit.
Brazil – Julio Cesar, T. Silva, Luiz, Maicon, Marcelo; Fernandinho, Paulinho, Oscar; Fred, Neymar, Hulk.
Colombia – Ospina; Zuñiga, Zapata, Yepes, Armero; Sanchez, Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Guarin, Ibarbo; Gutierrez.
1. Can Brazil stop Rodriguez?
With the 22-year-old superstar in the Golden Boot lead with five tournament goals, he’s menaced opposing defenses with a variety of lethal skills. He’s passed defenses into submission, made stellar runs, and crashed in goalazos. With Brazil’s back four struggling to stay compact and cohesive, Luis Felipe Scolari has brought in Maicon for the aging Dani Alves, and has both Fernandinho and Paulinho to provide midfield cover with Luiz Gustavo suspended on yellow card accumulation. But is that enough to pin down Colombia’s attack?
2. Will the Brazilian strikers take some weight off Neymar’s shoulders?
Both Fred and Hulk are in the lineup despite underwhelming performances from both strikers so far. With Brazil looking shaky at the back, it will likely take more than one goal for Brazil to get past this quarterfinal matchup, so they’ll need the strike pair to take their opportunities and provide service as well, as Neymar can only carry this team so far. Right?